Yes, your baby's poop holds clues to his health (your poop, too, you know, but that's for another article). But, there's a wide range of what can be considered "normal" from its color and texture to frequency. Here's a quick guide to your little one's digestion and bowel movement:
The first poop is black!
The first poop of a newborn is called meconium, explains pediatrician Dr. Ella Salvador to SmartParenting.com.ph. It can be a little alarming because it will be dark green to black in color with a thick and sticky consistency. That's because it has all the stuff he collected while in the utero like old blood cells and skin cells, hence its odd appearance.
If you still find that your baby’s poop is black or dark in color after a few days, go to your pediatrician to check if your baby is getting enough nutrition.
Then, infant poop can be green, orange, yellow, or brown.
A few days after birth and feeding, a baby’s poop starts to change, and it can come in a variety of colors — yellow, orange, green, brown and all the shades in between. Poop color worries new parents, but most of the time, as long as it lands in the colors mentioned beforehand, there’s not much to be concerned about, according to Dr. Salvador.
If there are colors you need to worry about at this point, it will be black, white, or red. White can mean that your baby’s liver isn’t producing enough bile; therefore what he eats doesn’t get digested enough. Black and red can indicate blood. Black is a sign of digested blood in the gastrointestinal tract. Bright red can mean fresh blood that’s coming from the colon or rectum.
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Baby’s number of poops a day changes over time.
For the first six weeks, expect at least two to five bowel movements in a 24-hour period, says lactation consultant Susan Condon in a column for BabyCenter US. “He may even have had a bowel movement every time you change his diaper throughout the day.”
After a little more than a month though, your baby’s poop frequency will change. And there’s not a set-in-stone number for all infants — the rate varies per baby. “After six weeks, it's normal for some babies to have fewer bowel movements, though others may continue having frequent ones. Don't be alarmed if your baby has a bowel movement only once a week. He's not constipated unless his stools are hard and dry,” explains Condon.
It makes sense — your baby’s diet is composed entirely of milk and contains no solid food. “A breastfed baby's poop is not usually formed, it has more of a pasty consistency,” says Dr. Salvador. You might also notice that it can be grainy or have small, soft lumps. A baby who is formula-fed, on the other hand, will have poop that's bulkier in texture — similar to that of toothpaste, explains BabyCentre UK. This is because formula milk can't be digested as fully as breast milk.
What diarrhea in babies looks like
Poop that's very runny, more frequent than usual, or explosive and spurts out of your baby's bottom is a sign of diarrhea. “If your baby is unhappy, not feeding well or appears sick, or if there has been any other change in his usual behavior and mood, then he may have a gut infection and diarrhea,” says pediatrician Dr. Jack Newman in a column for The Bump. Consult with a pediatrician if this is the case.
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What constipation in babies looks like
Instead of pooping frequency, look for signs of discomfort in your baby and take note of her stool consistency. Signs of constipation in your baby are firm, pebble-like stools, said Dr. Salvador. Your baby may need help pooping if she starts to become uncomfortable and has a persistently swollen abdomen, says pediatrician Dr. David Geller in a column for BabyCenter US. Consult with a pediatrician if this is the case.
Babies make a funny face when they poop!
Babies can put on a funny face when they’re pooping, but don’t worry. It’s usually not a sign of constipation. “A baby doesn't know how to...contract the abdominal musculature and push,” says Dr. Barry Steinmetz, a pediatric gastroenterologist, to WebMD. “Plus, they don't have gravity helping them like when you sit on a commode.”